Unique Designs for Any Backyard
Your UNIQUE Lifestyle Specialist
Landscape and pool planning in Arizona can be quite challenging due to the many hidden variables. Many communities are built over old citrus groves or farms while others are perched on the sides of steep, rocky hillsides. Each of these environments presents challenges for designers and installation crews as well. Designers need to have a strong background in horticulture to understand the impact that the soil conditions, drainage and terrain can have on plant material and how that can dictate certain plant locations. These features will also have an impact on the excavation and installation process for features such as hardscape and patios which could require additional base fill or footers. In addition to the physical features that a designer must master, the palette of materials available for use in Phoenix is quite large. A feature such as a patio could conceivably be constructed using one of almost a dozen different materials. These materials all have different colors, sizes and shapes not to mention costs. And what all of this means to you, the client, is that designers need to be very well educated about materials and the geographic area of the project in order to create the best design within the given budgetary constraints.
The added benefit of the UNQIUE design team is that they are very familiar with not only the cost of landscape materials and installation cost but also the cost of materials and installation for your swimming pool. Homeowners often struggle when faced with two contractors, one for the landscape and one for the pool. The homeowner knows they have a set budget but figuring out how to divide that between the pool and landscape can be quite a challenge. And you can be certain that no pool contractor will volunteer to lower a bid to allow for a larger landscape budget and vice versa. The solution for this is to select the contractor who will provide you with a free professional design and cost which will include both your landscaping and your pool. Not only will this eliminate any issues with your budget but it will also eliminate scheduling issues, conflict over project responsibilities and sadly “the blame game”. (This is when both contractors blame each other for an issue and neither one is willing to step up and correct whatever the issue might be- regardless of who is at fault.) The UNIQUE design team offers a wealth of knowledge about landscape, pools and outdoor living spaces in general. Check out the team and view some of their favorite projects.
One of the most UNIQUE features of the design team is that they are eager to get to know each potential client. The first meeting with a UNIQUE designer might appear to be a sales gimmick as they chat about their experience and other projects that they have designed. They could show you pictures or describe features in great detail. Then they might launch into what feels like a laundry list of questions, but this is all in an effort to get to know you and your expectations for the project. Unlike other designers who want to meet with a half a dozen new clients a day, the UNIQUE team is focused on quality and not quantity. Understanding a client and being able to understand their visualization of the perfect yard is critical to creating a quality custom landscape and pool design.
Arizona Landscape Design
Arizona requires some unique approaches to landscape design. UNIQUE’S philosophy revolves around a realistic and practical design. This plan, in our opinion, is the foundation to the entire relationship, the entire project and directly impacts the end result. This is also the reason that we offer design as a free service to our clients. We want you to understand that we value a good design enough to be willing to create it for you for free. A typical design for many Phoenix residents is simply a drawing or sketch, showing locations of all plants and landscape features. This works well for smaller, do-it-yourself projects, where contracts and expectations are not being considered. UNIQUE strongly recommends that on any project over $15,000, a complete design should accompany the proposal and price quote. Also, no swimming pool should ever be constructed without a pool plan, drawn to 1/8” scale for construction, contracts & future reference. If you are unsure about your needs, please contact a UNIQUE designer to discuss your project. Initial consultations are always free and we would be happy to work with you on your next design project.
The basics: Every landscape design needs to be documented on paper or in some other fashion. The plan should be drawn to scale so that field measurements can be verified for planting locations. The plan should contain a legend of some type, the scale to which the design is drawn and location of all existing plants and features.
The upgrades: As customers begin to invest more money into the landscape design process, their expectations for the level of detail in the presentation should also increase. This may include a color landscape plan which includes more presentation quality items. It may also be a more detailed drawing of some of the items involved in the landscape plan (like a fireplace, water feature, pergola or Ramada). A perspective drawing – which is a 3D-type drawing that shows up to 3 sides of a proposed feature – is not uncommon in the landscape & pool design business.
The “Premium”: Few would argue that UNIQUE’S landscape & pool design presentations are “basic” or even “upgraded”. Quite often our client’s first comment is “WOW” or “AWESOME”. We believe that all clients deserve a “Premium” experience. With that goal in mind, UNIQUE believes that any premium landscape design should include full-color, detailed precision for all aspects of the project. A detailed legend explaining all aspects of the job, from start to finish. It should be ready for permitting, engineering review, or HOA approval. Our latest presentation techniques include 3D presentations of your backyard, where we walk you through a virtual tour – all before you sign a contract for the work. Seeing it, before you buy it, is a sure way to make sure it’s the perfect investment.
A FINAL NOTE
Keep it together, your pool and landscape that is. Be certain that all aspects of your backyard are designed to maintain a sense of continuity. Don’t build a pool, and then try to figure out how to landscape around it! There are companies out there who specialize in landscape AND pool design, and UNIQUE continues to be ranked as one of the best in Phoenix! Even if you are planning on doing the project in phases, a professional landscape and pool plan is your single BEST investment – guaranteed! This first step is in essence the process of laying the foundation on which you will build your entire project. Only a strong foundation will yield quality results that you will enjoy for many years to come.
GO BIG OR GO HOME! Make sure you design and install adequate patio space for your outdoor living areas. Outdoor entertainment is a way of life in Arizona. Take advantage of the great climate and plan to incorporate outdoor entertaining for all of your parties and holiday gatherings. Think about the largest group that you host each year and design for that number or even slightly larger. Remember, families grow and as do your circle of friends. You will never wish you had less space to host family and friends.
Preserve your views! Preserve your views of natural beauty and the amazing Phoenix sunsets! Imagine where you will be sitting, maintain and protect your precious mountain or city views while screening neighboring structures and streets. Not only will plant material block a less than desirable view but it will also provide a screen for street noise and annoying street lights. A good Phoenix landscape designer will also consider the view from INSIDE your home and preserve those by strategically placing large plants and trees away from windows.
Plant in 1’s, 3’s & 5’s. This interior design rule is also just as relevant outside. Keep your specimen trees & palms in singles (or groups of 3), and plant your plants in groups of 3’s or 5’s – keeping similar colors in large groups. The human mind naturally searches for pairs and symmetry, planting in odd numbers keeps the mind searching for pairs and thus moves the eye throughout the landscape. Odd numbers also eliminate the need for perfection when pairing plants. Each plant will grow at a slightly different rate and perfect pairs are an impossibility. Use odd numbers and never worry about trying to achieve that impossible perfection.
Plant for All Seasons. Most people make the mistake of buying all the plants that look good when they install their Phoenix landscaping. Unfortunately, those same plants might not be in their prime throughout the year. Select plants with various blooming seasons to provide color, interest and beauty throughout the year. You will enjoy the subtle changes throughout your yard as you enjoy your year round outdoor living space.
Focal Feature Frenzy! The best Phoenix landscapes have a great focal feature. This can be a front entry fountain (for a front yard focal feature), or a beautiful fireplace for your backyard focal feature. Every designer focuses on some sort of visual “anchor” which will become the center piece of your landscape. This allows for other accents to be coordinated & associated with this main focal feature.
Create textures! Create textures and elevation changes. A flat yard covered with rock and similar plants is not interesting to the eye and will not draw interest throughout the yard. Simple additions such as river rock or rip rap dry creek beds add an eye catching element and encourage movement. Your eye naturally follow the path to discover other features in the yard. The same interest can be achieved or enhanced with a variety of plant textures such as willowy grasses and bold agave arms. The cost increase is minimal but the increased interest and beauty of the yard will be priceless.
Decorate! Even some of the best looking backyards can look much better with accents and decorations. Patio furniture placement, outdoor pottery and flower gardens, collectibles and ironwork – all the items add to the “personality” of your new design. These element can be changes from time to time and will offer an affordable way to bring a new splash of color and interest to your outdoor living environment. And don’t forget your outdoor living space when decorating for the holidays. Giant brightly colored ornaments and garland can add holiday cheer to any yard.
Think Construction. Not all landscape plans can be built to look and function as they appear on flat sheet of paper. It’s always wise to have an experienced contractor review the design and offer construction tips or suggestions. This could reduce the cost of the project without reducing the functionality. UNIQUE is often called upon to evaluate landscape architect’s designs. We focus on finding ways to reduce the cost by “value analyzing” the project. In almost all of these instances we are able to save our clients 20% or more while still installing the same design!
Longevity & Low Maintenance. We find that many homeowners main goal is to get things done & installed as quickly as possible. But that tunnel vision can create issues for the homeowner in the long run. It’s easy to forget about one important question – How is this going to look & function in 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years? UNIQUE Landscapes can provide a 5 year, 10 year, and 20 year plan for your project. We will show you what to expect after each of these time intervals when it comes to repairs, removal of plants/trees, future proofing, and energy efficiency of landscape features. Our goal is to create a long term relationship with each of our clients. We want to be certain that you will be just as happy with your landscape project in 10 years as you are the day that we complete it. Allow your designer to show you a preview of your property so that you can know what to expect and to prepare for in the future of your outdoor living space.
QUALITY DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
UNIQUE continues to thrive as one of the only Arizona landscape and pool design firms. We continue to receive awards from business magazines, trade associations and the industry itself. We believe that a large part of our continued success revolves around our superior designs and presentations. We believe that our clients have a right to see what they are getting before we begin a project and it is our obligation to provide them with that information. It’s a great way to establish expectations for both the customer and the contractor. Below are several ways in which we demonstrate to our clients what is included in their project and the details of those elements. This ensures that they understand what they are purchasing and that they are going to be happy with the finished product
The “UNIQUE” difference – After many years of perfecting our products, we have come up with the best possible tools to illustrate to our clients exactly what they are getting from our installation crews.
• AutoCAD Plans – This is one of the most precise architectural programs available when it comes to construction design. Our plans are accurate to 1/10th of an inch, and provide a level of detail which is far superior to any other landscape & pool company. Our CAD plans are also presented in full-color, with a detailed legend to provide all of the details for each phase of the job.
• 3D Designs –Thanks to computer technology we have the ability to show you what your backyard will look like BEFORE we install it. We do this using a 3D animation program which has been adapted specifically for 3D pool design, and 3D landscape design. You can experience a real-life walk-through of your front or backyard from one of our computers or even get the rare opportunity to experience a bird’s eye view from 50 feet over your property. This program also allows you to see each of the different materials that will be used on your project. This is the perfect way to make that difficult final decision about selecting flagstone or pavers for your hardscaping. A single click of the mouse will allow you to see both options and choose the surface that is most appealing to you.
• PERMIT & HOA Plans –One of our complimentary services is to assist in the HOA approval process, and then submit and obtain all necessary city and county building permits for our projects. Our designs quickly roll over into these permitting copies due to the detail of the systems that we have in place. This makes it very quick and easy for us to secure the approval that you need from the HOA, and it also allows us to obtain the permits for your property in only days. Choose UNIQUE for your next Phoenix landscape plan and enjoy the added benefits offered to all of our clients.